CAPA Study Abroad Alumna Interview: Tiana Morris
Meet Tiana, a marketing major alumna from SUNY Oswego who studied abroad in London during spring semester 2015. Below, she talks about receiving CAPA's José Ramon Pérez International Scholarship which made her experience possible, her internship helping professionals network and connect at Common Cause, and how her time abroad inspired her to apply for graduate school to pursue a career in international education.
CAPA WORLD: Tell us a bit about yourself.
TIANA MORRIS: I am a recent graduate from SUNY Oswego with a major in marketing and a minor in human development. In spring 2015, I was able to study abroad in London with CAPA before going abroad again to China. There, I participated in a business research conference in Shanghai and a second language program in Hangzhou. I am now in the process of applying to graduate school to study international education.
CW: You were a recipient of CAPA's José Ramon Pérez International Scholarship. Tell us a bit about this award. What was the application process like and your reaction when you found out you won?
TM: This scholarship was created and funded by John Christian, President and CEO of CAPA The Global Education Network, who is also a SUNY Oswego graduate. The scholarship is offered once a year to SUNY Oswego students to study abroad London or Shanghai. The application process was pretty straight-forward. You needed to have letters of recommendation, documentation of financial need, and write an essay on why you should be chosen for this scholarship.
I remember my reaction to being told I won the scholarship like it was yesterday. It was a Friday night and I was in my living room with my housemates. As soon as I received the email, I burst out crying and called my mother.
CW: How important was the scholarship in your final decision to study abroad?
TM: For years, it was my dream to study abroad, but it wasn’t until I was going through the actual process that I realized how expensive it could be. If it wasn’t for the José Ramon Pérez International Scholarship, I wouldn’t have been able to study abroad.
CW: You accomplished a lot of “firsts” in your family: first to attend college, first to travel abroad and first to graduate from college - Congratulations! How did your family react when you mentioned you'd like to study abroad? What were their biggest concerns?
TM: Ultimately, my family was very happy for me. They were excited for me to be able to have this experience. Of course, like most parents, they were worried about me being away from home for so long, especially in another country. This was something new for all of us, so the fear of the unknown was a concern.
CW: Tell us a bit about your internship in London, your duties and accomplishments, any challenges or particularly rewarding moments you've had.
TM: My internship was with Common Cause, a non-profit start up that specializes in helping citizens who receive government assistance become entrepreneurs. I helped out with their bi-monthly business clinics; where we would connect various business professionals from different sectors (marketing, legal, finance, etc.) with the entrepreneurs. I really enjoyed working at the business clinics because I met so many different types of people and received advice I could use from them.
CW: What was a typical day in your life as an intern like?
TM: I went to my internship three times a week and no day was alike. Some days I did administrative tasks, others I would go out with my supervisors to meet with clients and attend networking events. The separate Learning Through Internships class was also very helpful because it taught us how to handle certain situations that come up in work environments.
CW: Where do you see yourself taking your career over the next few years? Did your experience abroad in any way shape your career goals and aspirations?
TM: Going abroad definitely shaped my career goals. I plan on going to graduate school to study international education so I can help students like myself have an amazing experience and go abroad.
CW: Tell us the story of a memorable interaction you had while abroad, either while in London or on travels further afield.
TM: I met some really amazing people from all over the world during my time abroad. Some memorable interactions I had were meeting people in Morocco and China who were blown away by my complexion. People would ask to take pictures with me, rub my skin, and compliment me on my dark skin. Also, people expressed how lucky and blessed I am to be from America, especially from New York.
CW: Where were the places you carved out as "Your London" - the places you found outside of the tourist sites, the places that were most meaningful for you? What was special about them?
TM: One of my favorite places in London to go to was The Social, doing hip hop karaoke every Thursday. I loved this place because going there made me feel like a Londoner and not a tourist. No matter where you were from, everyone shared something in common and that was their love for hip hop.
CW: What changes have you seen in yourself since you began your study abroad program? What has your experience taught you about yourself, the world around you and some of the larger global issues?
TM: Since going abroad, I see a lot of changes in myself. I take more risks and am more open-minded. There is so much more to the world; beautiful places, cultures and people. I try to encourage people to step outside their comfort zone. Americans in particular are less likely to go abroad than people from other countries. You learn so much when you travel, whether domestically or internationally. You have to see and experience things yourself instead of listening to what you hear and see on television.